ByAlexandra Ekstein-Kon, writer at
Editor at MP. Twin Peaks, Mr. Robot, a bit of this, a bit of that. Tweet me at @alexa_ekon
Alexandra Ekstein-Kon

Storytelling is an art, and those that have mastered it have made a lasting impact on our cultural history. From Homer's Odyssey to Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye, we all love a good story. However, some stories withstand the test of time better than others, still holding significance for a modern audience after centuries. But what do The Lion King, "O," My Own Private Idaho, 10 Things I Hate About You, High School Musical, and She's the Man all have in common? They were all crafted by the genius mind of one of the world's most esteemed playwrights, William Shakespeare.

The 6 films below are all are based on, or cite heavily, works such as Hamlet, The Taming of the Shrew, or Henry IV. Expertly using Shakespeare's plot structure and wit and adapting them to a modern or (in the case of The Lion King) cartoon setting, these stories continue to garner success today. Even though you might already have known some of these are based on Shakespeare's writings, it's never a bad thing to step back and admire his timeless genius that continues to inspire today's filmmakers.

Fun fact: Shakespeare has been credited with inventing over 1,700 words and expressions that we use daily in the English language. "All of a sudden" (The Taming of the Shrew), "swagger" (Henry V), and "method to [his] madness" (Hamlet) are just a few that come to mind.

Anyhow, enough literature talk and on to the movies!

1. 10 Things I Hate About You

One of the favorite movies of the '90s, 10 Things I Hate About You starred Julia Stiles, Heath Ledger (where we all first fell in love with him), and little Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

Which Shakespeare Play? The Taming of the Shrew

Favorite Quote: "Now, I know Shakespeare’s a dead white guy, but he knows his shit, so we can overlook that."

2. She's the Man

She's the Man starred Amanda Bynes, Channing Tatum in a tale of disguised identities.

Which Shakespeare Play? Twelfth Night

Favorite Quote: "Do you like cheese?" "Why yes I do, my favorite's gouda."

3. My Own Private Idaho

Starring a young Keanu Reeves and River Pheonix, My Own Private Idaho is less based on a Shakespeare play than some of the others on this list. Nevertheless, it takes large chunks of dialogue and plot from Shakespeare's Henry IV.

Which Shakespeare Play? Henry IV

Favorite Quote: "I'm a connoisseur of roads. I've been tasting roads my whole life. This road will never end. It probably goes all around the world."

4. "O"

Julia Stiles loves her Shakespeare adaptations! This modern take on Othello is once again set in a high school environment. Gotta love teenage angst.

Which Shakespeare Play? Othello

Favorite Quote: "I ain't no different than none of ya'll. My mom's ain't no crack head. I wasn't no gang banger. It wasn't some hood rat drug dealer that tripped me up. It was this white, prep school motherfucker standing right there! You tell them where I'm from... didn't make me do this."

5. The Lion King

The Lion King is one of the best Disney cartoons of the '90s, and is very much based on Hamlet, even down to the ghost of Simba/Hamlet's father appearing to him.

Which Shakespeare Play? Hamlet

Favorite Quote: “Oh yes, the past can hurt. But, you can either run from it or learn from it.”

6. High School Musical

This timeless tale of love and tragedy has been adapted to modern times on a couple of occasions: in the '60s in West Side Story, and once again in High School Musical... although it's safe to say Shakespeare would not be pleased by how they tweaked the ending.

Which Shakespeare Play? Romeo and Juliet

Favorite Quote: "We need to save our show from people who don't know the difference between a Tony Award and Tony Hawk."


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